What Are My Career Options in Physical Education?

Jobs in the field of physical education involves teaching children to play sports and helping kids and adults lead physically active lifestyles. Read on to find out more about these jobs, including the duties you'll perform, what your job prospects would be like and how much you'd make. Schools offering Exercise Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Options

Physical education degree programs prepare students for careers in the field through classroom instruction and practical training in fitness and athletics. Courses may include team sports, kinesiology, athletic training and motor development. Some programs require you to have first aid and CPR certification before gaining admission, while other programs include such training in their curricula. With a degree in physical education, you may go on to work as a physical education teacher or coach.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Entry-level Education Bachelor's degree
Professional Certification Certification is required.
Key Skills Communication skills, resourcefulness, patience, decision-making skills
Work Environment Schools

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Physical Education Teachers

As a physical education teacher, you'll work in an elementary, middle or high school, helping students acquire the physical and social skills they need to lead healthy, active lifestyles. The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance reports that at the elementary-school level, your main responsibility will be developing students' motor skills, such as jumping and catching. Middle-school teachers focus more on developing social skills through the use of sports and other group activities. Teaching in a high school, you'll concentrate on sports training and physical conditioning, and you'll teach students the benefits of life-long physical activity. At all levels, you'll accommodate students with special needs and help them develop their motor skills at a comfortable pace (www.aahperd.org).

Education Requirements

To become a physical education teacher, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you'll need to earn a degree in an applicable subject, like health science or physical education (www.bls.gov). You may be required to complete a teacher education component, which is often built into physical education degree programs, and earn your state teaching license. You may also need to maintain licensure regularly by completing continuing education.

Job Outlook and Salary

The BLS reports that the job outlook for all teachers depends on the grade level you teach. For example, kindergarten and elementary school teachers can expect 7% growth over the 2016-2026 decade whilst middle school and high school teachers can expect about average job growth of 8%.

According to May 2019 figures from PayScale.com, most physical education teachers earn between $39,391 and $63,067 a year. The median salary was $43,174 at that time. The same source reported that entry-level physical education teachers earned a median salary of $39,391, while those with 5-10 years of experience earned a median wage of $44,277.


To work as a coach, you'll likely need to have had some experience playing the sport you plan to coach, according to the BLS. As a coach, you'll teach your players the skills and techniques necessary to improve their chances for victory. This can involve promoting teamwork and training athletes during practices as well as calling plays and monitoring game play during competitions. You may work for an extracurricular organization or a school, or you may work as a private coach.

Education Requirements

The BLS notes that you'll likely need to have at least a bachelor's degree in physical education, sports science or another related field to coach a school sports team. You'll also need to have a deep knowledge of your sport's rules, regulations and guidelines. In some cases, sports knowledge and experience alone will qualify you for employment as a coach. Public-school coaches usually need certification, while college coaches may need it as well.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the BLS, coaches and scouts will experience faster-than-average job growth of 13% over the 2016-2026 decade. While college and professional sports coaches can expect a lot of competition, the BLS expects good prospects for high school coaches and women's sports coaches.

The BLS reported in May 2018 that coaches and scouts earned a mean annual salary of $43,870. Most salaries fell between $18,970 and $77,880 annually. The average wage for coaches and scouts working for elementary and secondary schools was $39,380, while those working for colleges, universities and professional schools earned $59,540 on average. The spectator sports industry paid these professionals $65,850 on average.

In May 2018, the BLS reported that California and Texas were top employers of coaches and scouts and offered these professionals respective average wages of $45,600 and $51,800. The District of Columbia offered the highest average wage of $66,650.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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